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Southern Pleasures

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Just because you live way down south in Dixie doesn’t mean you have to forego the delight of spring-blooming bulbs. There are many varieties of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other bulbs that will do well in the south, and almost any bulb will bloom there, provided you follow a few simple steps to ensure success.

The first thing you should look at is recommended hardiness zones, and choose specific varieties that have proven to be successful in your zone. Many suppliers will note hardiness zones in their descriptions. This is referring to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. If you don’t know what zone you’re in, enter your zip code. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10° increments. Fall planted bulbs are generally shown as suitable for zones 3-8, but the southernmost regions of the country can be as high as zone 11.

Spring-blooming bulbs are considered hardy bulbs, and they are planted in the fall in most areas because they require a period of dormancy in cold temperatures in order to develop properly. Since the southern states generally have milder winter temperatures, the bulbs can’t just be planted in the ground as they can be in colder climates further north – it’s necessary to chill the bulbs before planting. They need about three months at 40-45°F for optimum development. A dry basement or garage is good, or you can use a refrigerator — just be sure you don’t store them in the same refrigerator you use for fruit and vegetables, which give off a gas in the ripening process that can destroy the bulbs.

After this chilling period, you can plant bulbs in the ground as late as December and they will bloom at their normal time in spring.

Although some bulbs will bloom in subsequent years, they cannot be depended on to do so. For this reason, many southern gardeners will choose to dig up the bulbs and discard them, replacing them each fall with fresh bulbs.

This little extra effort will be well worth it when your spring garden comes alive with the delightful colors, bloom forms and fragrances of your fall-planted bulbs.

About Mary Pat

Mary Pat has written 23 post in this blog.

August 20, 2013
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